The hot button topics dividing our nation used to be considered impolite to talk about. Religion and politics, this nation was founded on the separation of church and state. At the same time, in certain circles, Science is treated as an untouchable, fringe subject. Why did the respect for discovery and knowledge wane? Is the centuries old advice no longer applicable or is society indifferent to civility? One thing is clear my child will learn the difference between fact and opinion, truth and beliefs.

“Never discuss religion or politics with those who hold opinions opposite to yours; they are subjects that heat in handling, ​until they burn your fingers.” Thomas Chandler Haliburton 1840

Beliefs Don’t Equal Truths

Unfortunately, truth is something that has become ambiguous in today’s world. Clouded by opinion, shrouded by stubborn ignorance, truths have become debatable and divisive. This heavily applies to Scientific facts, discoveries, and theories. Fact is made into fiction by those with no understanding of the Scientific method, empirical research, and the intensely competitive scrutiny of the peer review process.

The majority of people in this country use to understand the need for education; they respected knowledge. Lately, however, there is a growing wave of dissent among a certain demographic. They feel what’s being taught is directly conflicting with their personal beliefs. Beliefs and differences in belief systems is unavoidable. Problems arise when people try imposing their beliefs on others.

The Truth About Beliefs

There is nothing inherently wrong with beliefs. We all have them about a lot of things. For thousands of years, different cultures have believed in different higher powers. It is comforting. God gives believers a sense of control in a chaotic universe. God explains the unexplainable. In the same way, the laws of the universe give satisfaction to nonbelievers.

It is the nature of most religions to feel they are the only path to God. As such, some feel entitled to defame, disrespect, and even destroy the others; we war over perceived offenses to beliefs we hold as truths. Is there one true religion? How could that be possible? Like Einstein’s blind men feeling an elephant, it’s impossible for just one to be completely accurate. Bias is a very human tendency, which in itself is blinding.

Poetic Empiricist Prejudice Illusion video on YouTube

​Religions are untestable stories written by a specific culture to explain the existence of all things. What we call God, this force behind existence, is broken down into human terms and given human attributes. While religion teaches morals and attempts to control the population it serves, it also normalizes certain behaviors. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, except for when it is, as in the case of religious and ethnic cleansing. Some of the biggest and legitimate complaints against religion is how many past and current wars and genocides can be attributed to them.

In theory, religions are eloquent and loving instructions of how to navigate through the world as a decent human. In practice, most religions become polarizing. A current examination of the plight of Muslims, for example, finds millions of them locked in concentration camps by atheists, cut-off and locked down by Hindus, victims of an apartheid in Israel, not to mention decades of in-group fighting between Sunni and Shia throughout the Middle East. Just prior to that, the Buddhist majority were destroying the Islamic minority population in Myanmar. There is often no equality or equity between theology and practice.

Besides the shortcomings of religious humans, there are other basic flaws in the doctrine of religion. Many curious minds, from children to atheists, often ask the “where is God?” type questions. Some of the most confounding are: why doesn’t God intervene to solve the abundant problems facing the world? Why would God let bad things happen to good people? Why do disease, evil, and poverty exist? Every religion has its own set of answers for these questions. Belief in all of these unfounded uncertainties is called faith.

Call Me What You Like

My baby already has a lot of definitive ideas about life, just like her mother. This is wonderful and I hope it continues! I want my child to be decisive and unafraid to express herself. When this confuses others, it’s important to be able to logically and calmly defend your position. Naturally, a defense based on truths is stronger than a defense based on beliefs.

I have written many books about science, but I also have two that enumerate the commonality between different religions, spirituality, and Science. This may puzzle some people. I don’t think it should.

Criticism comes from both sides of the aisle. However, in my Science teaching career, I have personally received plenty of scorn from the fundamentalist reich. Thankfully, I was prepared in graduate school for this exact issue. Teaching about evolution, earth history, and the fossil and stratigraphic records directly conflicts with those who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. (Despite the fact that there are various places within the Bible that advise against literal interpretations, for example the “milk and meat” verses.). At the time, it seemed unimaginable to have to dedicate costly class time to defending the nature of science! I get it now, and on my website I felt the need to define it.

Science is:


Science is a human activity. Humans are filled with curiosity, reason, and awareness; we are innovative, organized learners. Science can refer to a method or process, the vast collection of knowledge humans have been building about nature, or a common standard of units, symbols, and classification. The Scientific method is a formalization of the learning process, where quantitative data can be extracted and analyzed. Through a hypothesis, a testable prediction, an experiment can be carefully designed to show cause and effect relationships; when one factor is carefully manipulated, and all others intentionally kept the same, the outcome will measure that specific factor with more certainty. Scientific experiments are repeated and checked by other scientists either in competition or cooperation. Only replicable results are considered valid.

Humans have created scientific theories as a way of organizing isolated facts into an explanation. If this theory has been proven to accurately predict or describe the events in our environment, they may become laws. The laws of the natural world effect all people, equally. Science has limitations to its ability to describe nature. As a human activity, it is bound by our limited human senses and minds, abilities, opportunities, and position. Science is not able to discuss topics that are not testable, reproducible, unobservable, or subjective.” From my Poetic Empiricist homepage 2012.

Who’s Offended by Truth?

​One of my adult students once told me not to worry about teaching evolution. She said the Bible states time is different for man and God. When I checked it out, there it was. This is one meaning of my book title “Differences in Time”, about life and Earth history. The reason many religious fundamentalists shun science is because the timeline set forth by radiometric and relative dating conflicts with the creation story. My target audience includes children from such families; my aim is to bring science literacy to all children. I include footnotes, endnotes, and glossaries for parents to feel comfortable explaining concepts and answering questions as they arise.

“Differences in Time” on YouTube

We need everyone to understand Science and see how we rely on it daily! Science, unlike religion, is not something you can choose not to participate in. Everything we personally have today, from increased life expectancy and decreased infant mortality, to medicines, surgical procedures, and protective measures for clean water and food, did not arrive through opinion, rhetoric, or faith. Instead they developed through careful, controlled conditions, Science.

While spirituality and religion are based on deeply personal beliefs, Science is universally applicable knowledge based on observation, testing, and discovery. One does not take the place of the other. When this is understood, we can move beyond perceived divisions; those who follow religion don’t need to reject Science.

No Room for Closed Minds

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of posts and memes about how religion and science are mutually exclusive, how we can only believe in one and not the other. I understand why many Scientific minds feel this way, but I think it’s dangerous. I think that this is the exact type of thinking that has the U.S. in the position we are currently in, politically, morally, and educationally.

What’s occurring right now, like the puritanical days of old, are religious fundamentalists shunning Science while simultaneously holding a zealot grasp on increasingly muddied politics. This is exactly what this country was founded against. These people will use the fruits of scientific and technological discoveries while simultaneously condemning science. They’ll use computers, cell phones, and the internet to argue against science. This antilogic is the exact reason we ALL need to understand science. This is why Science must not exclude their children, who may be confused by their parents’ hypocrisy.

Children from religious families who find truth in science feel forced to choose between it and God. Their families don’t give them an option, so choosing Science is a choice to go against their family. Furthermore, their conditioning would lead them to believe they would also be at odds with God. This is why mutually exclusive thinking is not something the scientific community should push.

Children raised in ultra-religious families should be welcomed into the fold of the scientific community. Accept these novices where they are, or risk losing them forever to a cyclical mindset that typically sucks subsequent generations in too. Of course, it’s important to note that this is not true for all religions. There are those who acknowledge the ability of their theology to coincide with science.

Self-Awareness is Key

I’ve taught English to highly intelligent adult students from around the world. These students had different religions and some were without religion. I believe the fundamentalists from this country would be surprised how closely their radicalized beliefs parallel some of the most superstitious world religions. In a country with advanced medical care, there are those who refuse treatment for themselves or their children in lieu of divine intervention. Similarly, I had a Somali student who came to me with, what I would say, classic symptoms of debilitating, reoccurring panic attacks. His family did not believe in modern medicine and he was subjugated to various supernatural and ritualistic treatments; they suspected witchcraft, a curse, or demonic possession. He was overwhelmingly depressed and caught in the middle of the two worlds he existed in, unsure what to believe in.

We, as Americans, cannot feel that we are beyond this level of logic. There is a portion of our population who ignores evidenced based knowledge. One glaring example is the emergence of flat earthers. Despite knowing for hundreds of years that Earth is a sphere, as verified by separate lines of evidence, the flat earth movement emerged. It’s unclear why a round earth is so incomprehensible. Maybe they just enjoy being contrary. They have multiple, overly elaborate explanations for everything that a round earth can easily explain. (This being a perfect example of a violation of the Occam’s Razor concept!)

In the same way, climate change is also suspect, despite overwhelming and alarming evidence from all over the globe. Everything from sea levels rising, disappearing ice sheets and glaciers, droughts, fires, stronger and more severe weather, crop failures, and hotter temperatures than any ever recorded by humans, is attributable to climate change. These are facts. Whether the climate change is 100% due to human activity, or partly resulting from changes in the Milankovitch cycle, is unclear. Either way, we have the evidence to show, now is the time to act.

Resoundingly, the worst and reoccurring excuse given for disregarding the environment is used by those who cite degradation as a God given right. They feel God has placed man above all else. Despite the Bible stating we are to be stewards of the earth and life within, they seize on dominion. They feel that God will make a new earth so humans should be irreproachable for damages. There are verses that oppose this abusive attitude:

Job 12:7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

Isaiah 11:9 “They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

Nothing Fringe About Science and Politeness

​I believe in Science, the Big Bang, and an infinite source. The infinite source is the origin of the infinitesimal as well as all mass-energy that came before it. To some people, it may seem overwhelming to keep asking “and then what? What made that?”. If God made the universe, what made God? If the universe exploded out of an infinitely dense particle, what made that? People who get uncomfortable thinking about these grand questions say we aren’t supposed to ask them.

My child will be raised to think and ask questions. I believe in a higher power that is undefinable. I will joyously present many ideas of what god is, from different religions to Science. I acknowledge this is a very agnostic way to contemplate God. I will, however, raise a moral and accountable person. I will not dictate what my child believes, but I will make the distinction between beliefs and truths.

Above all, my child will learn to be open minded, to not judge others, and to understand that most things are not black and white. There are innumerable shades of grey, which is why it’s best not to feel the need to have constant judgements and opinions. I will build my child up to be forthright without fear of others who are opinionated, critical, and judgy, and to never agree with anything that is disagreeable.

As a Science teacher, I’m already presenting my baby with Science and will steadily scaffold this information. I want my child to be equipped to explain why the sky and water are blue, why plants are green, how our body functions, all the wonderful knowledge of Science. Science is the tie that represents and binds all people. On the other hand, we will practice politely reserving our personal beliefs on spirituality and politics.